Friday, 24 June 2011

Nuns to be summoned to court in stolen babies cases

SPAIN (El Pais) The Madrid attorney's office has decided in a meeting that it will call on nurses- many of them nuns- and doctors to testify in the cases of newborns stolen from their parents in the 1970s and 1980s. Attorneys in several Spanish regions are currently investigating 849 alleged cases of children who were taken from their mothers at birth and sold to couples through unofficial networks made up of doctors, nurses and intermediaries with social connections, who located childless couples willing to pay for a baby. The biological mothers, often single and uneducated, were typically told that their baby had died at birth, or else were pressured to give them up- allegedly to give them access to a better life. This practice is believed to have gone on between 1950 and 1990.>>>
The chief attorney of Madrid, Eduardo Esteban, and eight other colleagues will analyze which cases can move forward and which must be closed through lack of proof of whether the baby really died or not. In the case of babies whose bodies ended up in a common grave, running DNA tests becomes impossible, according to a source at the attorney's office.

Members of the network could face charges of forgery (for registering the babies under different names), kidnapping and illegal detention, although the latter charge is harder to prove because it involves preventing the free circulation of people, which is not applicable to newborns.

A few sources admitted that the statute of limitations on such crimes may have expired, since most of them have a five-year period that has been amply surpassed in many cases. Attorneys are now debating whether baby theft could be construed as a crime that does not expire.

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